The Second Amendment has been something I have only recently began to fully understand as a pinnacle of life as a free American. A shield against tyrannical government, the Second Amendment is a political rarity in the landscape of the world because socialist and totalitarian governments seek to weaken and control their citizens. The Second Amendment does the opposite, giving strength to citizens and securing a government of the people. Today, however, the Second Amendment is in peril as a misinformed society fails to truly understand the purpose of the Constitution including the Second Amendment.
The significance of the Second Amendment lies in its creation. Next to the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition, the location of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights indicates its importance. It was created second, only following the five principal rights Americans fought for in the Revolutionary War as enumerated in the First Amendment. No one can remember what the 21st Amendment is, yet everyone knows about the Second. To be the second change that a newly formed Constitutional Convention added to the Constitution of the United States is a testimony to the value and importance of a free people and a law-abiding, protected nation. One would be hard-pressed to find another entity anywhere in the world that has a founding document protecting the right of private firearm ownership.
A main argument against the Second Amendment is the belief that it does not protect the right to private firearm ownership, but instead protects the rights of a paramilitary or police force in the form of a militia. This argument comes from the line “A well regulated militia,” but upon further inspection can be easily discredited. The world militia todaytypically refers to an armed body that is somehow affiliated with, and even an agent of, the United States Government. Examples include police forces and the National Guard. To the contrary, in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was adopted, Americans with fresh memories of the American Revolution considered a militia to be nothing more than a simple, unofficial gathering of armed citizens who banded together to secure their small cities and personal effects. The same goal, of protecting communities and personal effects, is also the goal of law-abiding citizens today who support the Second Amendment and carry firearms for personal protection. The liberal fear of firearms, like any fear, is traced back to a lack of understanding. Fueled by Hollywood, gun myths run rampant in political debates especially after a tragedy or accident involving firearms. What people fail to realize, is that the accidents and tragedies where firearms play a part, is more human error than firearm error. A gun is a machine. It shoots where it's pointed and like any machine can be dangerous if used incorrectly. While politicians plot to ban guns on the basis of supposedly moral obligations, no one has thought that the failures of people are to blame. In this age of “political correctness” a concern about offending people has led to the blaming of historical practices rather than the people truly responsible.
The Second Amendment is in danger today. Even as a youth, I can see that. Each firearm accident adds fuel to the fire that is trying to burn away at our rights. Few people today take the effort to truly try to understand the Second Amendment. Even less are active to protect their Constitutional rights, weakening a system of government that relies on the people. The reason behind the creation of the Second Amendment was to ensure that legitimate governments protected the peoples' rights to self-defense against threats foreign and domestic. Right now, the biggest threat to our rights to keep and bear arms is political apathy. Less than half of eligible Americans vote. Decisions that affect the whole of the people are being decided by less than half of us. America is not a nation of sideline players, we are made up of brave individuals who stand up for their rights and ensure that their freedoms are protected. This is why voting and politics are not something to neglect.
In my AP World History class I learned that the once mighty Roman Empire fell apart because of political apathy. The people, bored and unmotivated, lost interest in their Senate-causing one of the largest influencers on modern Western Civilization to fracture into smaller empires and eventually be conquered by “barbaric” Germanic tribes. In 2008 author Cullen Murphy published a book entitled Are we Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the fate of America. In this book Murphy questioned the similarities between the Roman Civilization and modern America, forecasting that unless major changes occurred the United States was destined to join Rome's fate. The opposite however is true, the United States will not fall as Rome did because we are recognizing our shortcomings and working to correct them. We can restore confidence in America and one way to do that is definitively take action to protect the Second Amendment.
So overall, a youth's perspective on the Second Amendment-my perspective-is reverence and thankfulness to the Founding Fathers who so wisely recognized the need to protect the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in a newly formed country that would face a multitude of threats from the War of 1812 to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I am thankful that I have the right to protect my loved ones and myself. I am thankful that it is my right to enjoy firearms usage for hunting and shooting sports. Most importantly of all, I am thankful that others recognize the importance of these rights and work day in and day out to protect the liberty of the American people. By taking action through voting and contact with members of our national and state legislatures, the current generations can ensure that future ones will have the opportunity to enjoy life in a free, safe country with hope and prosperity.
About the Author: Hunter Ihrman is a 14-year-old politically active youth and shooter. A high school student in West Michigan, he is the Director of Communications for the West Ottawa Young Republicans, a Club 100 Activist of the Young Americans Foundation, an active NRA Life Member, NRA High Power “sharpshooter,” an active hunter of North American game, and a cellist in his top high school orchestra and community Holland Area Youth Orchestra. To contact him with comments, questions, or concerns, send an email to [email protected]